Before getting behind the wheel of a rental car, it’s good to know some driving tips for Brazil. The rules of the road might be different from what you’re accustomed to, but we at SIXT are here to help with an outline of some regulations, speed limits, and other information you should know.
Rules and Regulations
- Drive on the right-hand side and overtake on the left.
- Drunk driving is illegal in Brazil as the blood alcohol content allowed is zero.
- The use of mobile phones is not allowed apart from using a hands-free system.
- All occupants of the vehicle are required to wear a seat belt.
- If a child is too small to use a seat belt then they must ride in a child seat.
- Right turns at red lights are prohibited unless indicated otherwise by a “Livre a Direita” sign
- It is an offense for a person to drive wearing flip flops or with their elbow resting on the window sill and protruding from the vehicle
- Vehicles entering a roundabout have to give way to vehicles already in the roundabout
- Running out of gas is against the law, whether the immobilized vehicle constitutes an obstacle for other traffic or not.
- You should park in the direction of traffic flow and not facing it.
- The use of indicators, other than for signaling an intention to change direction, can mean: left- it’s unsafe to pass, right- it’s safe to pass
- Headlights flashed at oncoming traffic can indicate danger ahead, such as an accident or perhaps the presence of police.
These are the standard legal speed limits, and any changes will be signposted if there is road work or another situation.
|Within city limits||60 kph (30 mph)|
|Outside city limits||80 kph (50 mph)|
|Motorways||120 kph (75 mph)|
What to Bring Along
- Vehicle license papers (Certificado de Registro e Licenciamento do Veículo – CRLV)
- Road tax documents (IPVA)
- A first-aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- An International Driving Permit is recommended and may avoid the need for an official Portuguese translation at the local Department of Transport office (DETRAN)
- Due to the high incidence of crime happening at traffic lights, it is tolerated for drivers to not stop at red lights at night in major cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
- Drivers should keep doors locked and windows closed, particularly at intersections and especially at night
- Be careful when driving in rural areas as some roads are in bad condition and may contain potholes.
- Brazil does have some toll roads, particularly in the state of São Paulo as well as Bahia, Parana, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, and Santa Catarina.
- If driving in Sao Paulo be warned that the city is renowned for traffic jams and has some of the worst congestion in the world.
- In Brazil, it is not uncommon to see cars driving without their headlights on at night.